Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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March 4, 2013

UPDATE: TxDOT schedules meeting to review loop plans

Corsicana — Editor's note: Edited on Monday, March 4 to indicate the route will continue past Interstate 45 to intersect with Highway 31 east of Corsicana near the Pactiv plant.

The Highway 31 bypass — officially called the Highway 31 Relief Route — will finally get a public unveiling from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 28 at the Cook Center.

The meeting is an open house designed to let the public finally get a peek at the large maps, and comment on them. Representatives with the Texas Department of Transportation will be available to discuss the project.

“We are going to have the layout, or the schematic of the relief route, and we’ll also have it more specific for the first phase of the project,” said Darwin Myers, area engineer for TxDOT.

Myers said residents will be able to view maps of the proposed layout and see how it affects any property near them and how they’ll be able to access it.

Initially, the project is funded to build a two-lane road along the route, starting near the TxDOT headquarters west of Corsicana, crossing under Interstate 45 about a half-mile south of Stewart Motors, then continue east where it will re-connect with State Highway 31 near the Pactiv plant. That road will eventually be the east-bound service road of the fully completed highway.

The project will eventually feature a four–lane freeway with frontage roads around the southern side of Corsicana, a 14-mile relief route for trucks and through traffic, allowing those vehicles to avoid Corsicana when headed towards Tyler or Waco on Highway 31.

While the project is now funded and moving forward, it will be a while before any work on the roadway takes place, Myers said.

“We are looking at putting the project out for bids in August or September of 2014,” he said. Construction could begin around January of 2015, with construction expected to take 18 to 20 months, resulting in a completion date of summer or fall of 2016, he said.

Although the ultimate project will be a fully-developed freeway, the first phase will be purchasing the right-of-way and building the two-lane road. The state’s intention is to buy all the right-of-way up front, so it won’t be a hindrance to the future development. That means about 684 acres of road, and about six acres of easements will be needed.

Future work to develop the bypass to a full, four-lane highway will be dependent on traffic counts, usage, and availability of funding, Myers said.

Maps will be at the public meeting, but they’re also available at the TxDOT offices on the western edge of Corsicana, and at the area headquarters in Mesquite.

Anyone with an interest in the project is encouraged to submit either a written or verbal comment at the meeting, or by sending written comments to Michael Renfro, TxDOT Dallas District APD, 4777 E. Highway 80, Mesquite, TX, 75150. All comments must be postmarked by April 10.

The state has already authorized spending about $52 million on the project.

The route has to be presented to the public in hearings to make it official. Once the public’s comments have been submitted and addressed, then the actual finished drawings will be done and right-of-way acquisition will begin.

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Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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